S4J – love of running for a greater cause

The S4J (Sudan4Jesus) has just released a short video to share the story of how elite runner, Renier Grobler combines his love for Jesus and running for a greater cause. Renier is part of the S4J team of athletes and buddies to raise funds to help the people of Sudan and South Sudan.

Renier in top gear at the Comrades Marathon. He is part of the S4J team that runs for a greater cause.

Renier is an elite athlete. In the past four years he achieved two top 20 positions in the Comrades Marathon and two top 10 positions in the Om die Dam 50 km marathon.

To WATCH the S4J video, click on this link.

To view the various projects the S4J is involved with, click on this link.

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Sudan inaugurates new leaders

Omar Al-Bashir, Sudan President

Sudan’s newly-appointed First Vice President, Bakri Saleh; Second Vice President, Osman Kibir and Prime Minister, Mutaz Mussa were sworn in on Monday before Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir.

“These changes came to reaffirm a real will to achieve a positive change in the economy, society and politics,” Mr Kibir said this at the swearing-in ceremony.

“We are fully aware of the requirements of the current phase which come within the framework of the national economic reform programme,” he added.

The Leadership Office of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) on Sunday approved the decision of Mr al-Bashir to dissolve the national unity government and appoint a new prime minister to tackle the country’s growing economic crisis.

The decision came after an earlier meeting held by the NCP Leadership Office, chaired by Mr al-Bashir, to discuss changes to the government and the proposed candidates of the new cabinet members.

The meeting appointed Mr Saleh, who had served as both prime minister and first vice president, as the first vice president, and Mr Mussa, former Minister of Irrigation and Electricity, as prime minister.

Meanwhile, Mr Kibir was appointed as the second vice president to replace Hassabo Abdul-Rahman.

Sudan has been suffering from an economic crisis caused by the shortage of liquidity and the devaluation of its national currency.

(Xinhua/NAN)

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Cash-Strapped Sudan to Form Leaner New Government in Two Days

FILE – Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir speaks during a press conference at the palace in Khartoum, Sudan, March 2, 2017.

Sudan will form a new government within two days, President Omar al-Bashir said on Monday, a day after he dissolved the cash-strapped administration and slashed the number of ministries by a third to tackle a deepening economic crisis.

Sudan has been looking to cut down spending as it grapples with a crisis-ridden economy battered in recent months by shortages of hard currency and staples like fuel and bread.

After an emergency ruling party meeting to discuss the economy on Sunday, Bashir named a new prime minister, Motazz Moussa, and asked him to form a tighter government of 21 ministers instead of 31 as part of efforts to cut costs.

Speaking on state television on Monday, Bashir said the new government would look to slash government spending “to a minimum” but did not specify the nature of the cuts.

“Within the next two days a national reconciliation government will be formed to implement a program to reduce government spending, reform the civil service, eradicate all forms of corruption, and provide an attractive environment for investment,” the longtime president said.

The ministries to be shelved have not yet been announced, but a ruling party official said on Sunday that the ministers of foreign affairs, defense and presidential affairs would remain in their posts.

Sudan’s decision to reduce bread subsidies earlier this year triggered rare nationwide protests after bread prices doubled.

A severe shortage of hard currency in the formal banking system has led to a booming black market for dollars where the hard currency currently trades for a roughly 40 percent premium.

This premium has hiked the cost of imports and helped push inflation to about 64 percent in July.

In recent months liquidity of local currency at commercial banks has also dried up, with long queues outside of banks and daily withdrawal limits falling to as low as 500 Sudanese pounds ($17.06) in some places.

Sudan’s economy has been struggling since the south of the sprawling northeast African country seceded in 2011, taking with it three-quarters of oil output and depriving Khartoum of a crucial source of foreign currency.

Bashir, who has ruled since a 1989 Islamist and military-backed coup, has said he will not stand in elections expected in 2020 and appointed a prime minister last year for the first time.

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Sudanese President Bashir dissolves government, appoints new PM

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir addresses supporters during his visit to the war-torn Darfur region, in Bilal, Darfur, Sudan September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

Bashir named Motazz Moussa as the country’s prime minister. He replaces Bakri Hassan Saleh, who was appointed in 2017 as the country’s first prime minister since Bashir came to power in 1989.

Moussa had been serving as minister of irrigation and electricity before the government was dissolved.

Saleh, who had been serving as both prime minister and vice president before the shake-up, will stay on in the newly created post of first vice president, while Osman Yusuf Kubur was appointed second vice president.

The announcement came just after Bashir called an emergency meeting of ruling party officials in the presidential palace on the back of growing economic concerns over price rises and shortages.

No other ministerial appointments were announced, but the number of ministries in the new government will be slashed to 21 from 31, a move intended to cut down on spending, National Congress Party Deputy Chairman Faisal Hassan told a news conference.

The ministers of foreign affairs, defense and presidential affairs will remain in their posts when the new government is formed, Hassan said.

Khartoum has been trying to slash expenditures as it grapples with record high inflation, the hard-currency shortage and growing concern over low levels of liquidity at commercial banks.

Long queues outside commercial banks have become a fixture around Khartoum in recent weeks as the liquidity of the local currency has dwindled and ATMs have been emptied of cash. Daily withdrawal limits in some places have been set as low as 500 Sudanese pounds ($16.60).

A presidency statement said the latest measures were necessary to solve “the state of distress and frustration faced by the country during the last period”.

Sudan’s economy has been struggling since the south seceded in 2011, taking with it three-quarters of oil output and depriving Khartoum of a crucial source of foreign currency.

The lifting of 20-year-old U.S. trade sanctions last year was expected to usher in a more prosperous era for a country that had long been isolated.

But economic woes have only deepened as a black market for U.S. dollars has in effect replaced the formal banking system, making it more difficult and expensive to import essential supplies such as wheat.

The dollar has risen to about 47 pounds on the black market in recent months, against an official rate of about 30 pounds. That helped to push annual inflation to around 64 percent in July.

A doubling of the price of bread in January, after the government eliminated subsidies, triggered demonstrations.

Sudan has been without a central bank governor since June, when Hazem Abdelqader died after suffering a heart attack while on a trip to Turkey.

SEPTEMBER 9, 2018 / 10:04 PM / A DAY AGO

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Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir dissolves government

President Omar al-Bashir has fired all 31 government ministers as he seeks a new, smaller cabinet amidst economic crisis. Inflation has reached an astronomical 65 percent.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir dissolved the country’s government on Sunday amidst an increasingly dire economic crisis. With the approval of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), Bashir fired all 31 cabinet ministers including Prime Minister Bakri Hassan Saleh.

“The economic situation needs to be resolved and for this President Bashir decided to cut the government at all levels,” Bashir’s aide told reporters.

“President Bashir has decided to have a smaller 21-member government,” he added.

The former irrigation minister Moutaz Mousa Abdallah is Bashir’s new pick for prime minister, and will be tasked with forming the new, smaller cabinet.

Economic meltdown

Sudan has been suffering from an acute economic meltdown, with inflation rising to a staggering 65 percent and stagnant growth that has been difficult to overcome.

Although the conflict-ridden country recorded growth of about 6 percent between 1998 and 2008, it lost much of its oil reserves when South Sudan became independent in 2011.

Hopes that Washington would lift some sanctions against the Sudanese government would boost the economy have also proven futile.

In 2013, the government attempted to save funds by cutting fuel subsidies, leading to fatal clashes between protesters and police in Khartoum.

The World Bank has urged authorities in Sudan to undertake sweeping structural reforms if they want to revive the flagging economy.

es/kl (AFP, Reuters)

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Sudan, South Sudan agree on permanent ceasefire

3 July 2018

Sudan on map. Link to image.

The Republic of Sudan and its neighbour, South Sudan, have agreed on a permanent ceasefire to ensure sustainable peace in both countries.

The Sudanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Ibrahim Bushra, made this known in a statement in Abuja on Sunday.

He said that the agreement was the outcome of a meeting between leaders of the both country on ways to resolve their conflict.

According to the envoy, President Salva Kir of South Sudan and Ahmed El-Bashir of the Republic of Sudan jointly signed the agreement.

He said that the agreement contained clauses as “a permanent ceasefire is hereby declared throughout the Republic of Sudan and shall enter into force within 72 hours of signing of the declaration of agreement.

‘‘The permanent ceasefire shall be based on cessation of hostilities agreement signed on Dec. 21, 2017 and within 72 hours of signing the declaration of agreement.

‘‘The parties shall agree on ceasefire agreement including disengagement, separation of forces in close proximity, withdrawal of allied-troops, opening of humanitarian corridors and release of prisoners of war and political detainees.

‘‘All relevant provisions of the Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan shall apply; unless it is agreed otherwise, the parties shall agree on self-monitoring mechanism.

‘‘Furthermore, Inter-Governmental Authority for Development and African Union member-states are kindly invited to deploy the necessary forces to supervise the agreed permanent ceasefire.’’

Mr Bushra said that an agreement on the “revised bridging” proposal would be concluded before closure of the Khartoum round of talks.

He also disclosed that after the conclusion of the agreement, a pre-transitional period of 120 days would commence and would be followed by transitional period of 36 months.

‘‘Sharing power during the transitional period shall be in accordance with the formula that shall be agreed in the revised bridging proposal,’’ he added.

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Sudan Commutes Death Penalty After ‘Justice For Noura’ Campaign

Published July 2nd, 2018

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By Eleanor Beevor

The case of Noura Hussein, the 19-year old Sudanese woman who killed her husband after he had raped her, and was subsequently sentenced to death herself, drew a staggering international outcry. But now, the death penalty has been withdrawn, and Noura’s case has led to what looks like a significant legal milestone for rights of women in Sudan.

Noura Hussein was 16 when she was forced into an engagement with Abdulrahman Mohamed Hammad, a man 16 years older than her. Hammad had reportedly approached her father about marrying her when she was much younger, and still a high-school student.

However, Noura insisted that she wanted to finish her education in order to qualify as a teacher. Yet her family insisted she marry Hammad, so Noura fled to a relative’s house in eastern Sudan to escape the marriage. She later said that the idea of the marriage had led her to contemplate suicide. She stayed there until April 2017, when her family called her to tell her that they had cancelled the marriage agreement, and she could come home. But when she returned, she found that she had been tricked, and was forced to undergo the wedding ceremony.

Hating herself after rape!

Noura refused to have sex with her new husband for several days. She tried to escape the flat one night, but found the door locked. After several days, her repeated refusal to have sex was followed by a brutal rape. It involved Hammad’s two brothers and his cousin holding her down as Hammad raped her. Her mother later told the press that Noura had “hated herself” after the rape.

But when Hammad tried to force himself on her again the next day, Noura stabbed him several times, reportedly with a knife kept under her pillow. Her mother said that she had been keeping the knife in order to stab herself if Hammad tried to rape her again. But in the struggle, it was Hammad who was stabbed to death.

Noura panicked and told her family what she had done. They went to the police to explain, but Noura was arrested and imprisoned. In May 2018, a Sharia court in Khartoum sentenced her to death by hanging, despite her attorney’s plea that she had acted in self-defence. The father of the deceased Hammad, interviewed in a Sudanese newspaper, insisted that Noura had consented to the marriage, and that her crime was one of pre-meditated murder. Yet her attorney’s plea for a medical examination to prove the rape was rejected twice by the court.

But then Noura’s story went international. The campaign against her death sentence began with grassroots human rights campaigners such as the Afrika Youth Movement campaigning outside the courthouse, and with Sudanese lawyers mounting arguments in her favour.

International NGOs soon joined the campaign as well, and organisations such as the EU offered their support. Soon, celebrities such as Naomi Campbell and Emma Watson were taking part in an online campaign with the hashtag #justiceforNoura. A petition to the Sudan Government to spare Noura the death penalty received over 1.5 million signatures.

And it seems to have worked. On June 27th 2018, Noura’s death sentence was overturned in a court of appeal in Khartoum. Instead, she was sentenced to five years in prison, and a fine of 337500 Sudanese Pounds. Al Bawaba spoke to Judy Gitau Nkuranga, a Nairobi-based human rights lawyer with the charity Equality Now, one of the leading organisations in the Justice for Noura campaign. Ms Gitau Nkuranga believes that this ruling marked a significant legal precedent for women’s rights in Sudan:

“We feel this case marks a turning point in Sudanese jurisprudence on cases of women and girls who have been victims of sexual violence. This is because the advocacy around Noura’s case brought to the world’s attention to the fact that  it is still ‘legal’ in Sudan to marry a girl as young as 10 years of age. This is unacceptable and the advocacy and the global campaign on the case made sure the Sudanese government, including their courts system, heard this message loud and clear.

It is our observation that the court was mostly persuaded by a robust appeal which was filed by Noura’s lawyers, as supported by human rights organizations coupled with a meticulous campaign that brought the case and the unfair laws underpinning it to the global stage. The courts were placed under pressure to do justice not only in their own eyes but through the eyes of the millions who were waiting and watching.”

” The courts were placed under pressure to do justice not only in their own eyes but through the eyes of the millions who were waiting and watching.”

For human rights organisations, this is considered only a partial victory. They have argued that five years in prison and a large fine, paid to the family of the deceased, is still too high a price to pay for Noura Hussein’s act of self-defence. Moreover, there will still be a great deal of conservative resistance to changes to child marriage laws, or to outlawing marital rape. But at least for Noura herself, the announcement of her death sentence being withdrawn was a truly happy moment. Nkuranga added:

“Our partner on the ground tells us Noura was elated and happy on receiving the news of the appeal. The surrounding prisoners spontaneously burst into celebration as well.”

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Noura Hussein: ‘Hoping for a miracle to stop our daughter being hanged’

25 June 2018

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The parents of a Sudanese teenager who was sentenced to death after killing her husband – whom she accuses of raping her – have denied reports that they’ve disowned her. In an exclusive interview with the BBC, her father also says he never imagined that making her marry her cousin would have such terrible consequences.

Noura Hussein sobbed uncontrollably when she saw her mother earlier this month. It was the first time she had been visited by her family, since she was jailed one year ago.

Through the tears, the 19-year-old told her mother that she had originally planned to kill herself, after being raped by her husband.

“She hated herself after he raped her,” says Noura’s mother, Zainab Ahmed.

“She had got a knife ready to take her own life if he touched her again.”

But in the heat of the moment – when he did touch her again – she stabbed her husband instead. It was self-defence, her mother insists.

When Noura was sentenced last month an online campaign, #JusticeforNoura, spread across the world.

Supermodel Naomi Campbell and actress Emma Watson were among celebrities who joined activists in condemning the death sentence and demanding that the conviction be overturned.

And when Amnesty International urged supporters to email Sudan’s Justice Minister asking him to intervene, the volume of messages forced him to get a new email address.

It was only when her mother visited her in the harsh conditions of the Omdurman Women’s Prison that Noura discovered about this tide of support in the outside world.

For now, her own world is defined by the walls of the prison, where all inmates live in one large yard.

“There are no roofs so most of the women have to use sheets to keep the sun off them,” Justice Africa’s Sudan co-ordinator, Hafiz Mohammed, has said.

Noura remains in the shackles that she has been wearing since her arrest.

While she looked healthy, her mother says, her spirit appeared broken.

presentational grey line

The second of eight children, Noura Hussein, grew up in the village of al-Bager, 40km (25 miles) south of Khartoum. It’s a dusty place, surrounded by sandy, rocky hillocks, not far from the River Nile.

The bright colours of the fruit and vegetables laid out on patterned cloths on the floor of the local market provide rare bursts of colour piercing the mostly brown and barren landscape.

Zainab Ahmed says her daughter was always a quiet girl, and an intelligent one.

“She had ambitions,” Zainab says. “Noura dreamed of studying law at university and eventually becoming a lecturer.”

Their extended family had left the conflict-ridden region of Darfur to move to al-Bager when Noura was a child. They didn’t have much money, but Noura’s father’s business – a small hardware shop which sold tools and oil – meant that Noura could enjoy an education. This was what made her happiest.

“Many young girls in the area were getting pregnant”

But in 2015 Noura’s 32-year-old cousin, Abdulrahman Mohamed Hammad, proposed to her. She was 16.

Her mother says her daughter didn’t initially appear upset by the idea but asked to be allowed to continue her education. She also asked for the marriage to be delayed until her mother, who was pregnant, had given birth.

But family pressure began to mount, notably from her own father, Hussein.

“Many young girls in the area were getting pregnant and having illegitimate children,” says Hussein.

Hussein says he didn’t want her to suffer a similar fate and end up without a husband.

While she took part in the initial marriage ceremony it became clear that Noura’s opposition to the idea was increasing.

She ran away to her aunt in Sinnar, a city 350km away, and remained with her for two days. She was persuaded to come back home on the understanding that the marriage would never be completed.

In fact, once she arrived back the ceremony was completed, but she wasn’t required to live with her husband.

For the next two years she remained at her family home. When Abdulrahman visited, she would tell him outright that she didn’t want to be married to him.

However, family elders began to insist that Noura and her husband formalise the relationship and behave like a legally married couple.

In their close community it is the elders who make all key decisions. Honour and family respect are the most important values of the culture.

Her father Hussein says he saw no good reason for his daughter to keep refusing the union. The family had been patient for years.

Under pressure, Noura agreed to move in with Abdulrahman in April 2017.

presentational grey line

According to a first-hand account obtained by CNN, Noura says that she resisted her husband’s sexual advances for the first week they lived together.

She cried. She refused to eat. When Abdulrahman slept she attempted to leave the flat, but it was locked.

On the ninth day, Abdulrahman arrived at their flat with some relatives, who tore at her clothes and held her down while he raped her, according to the CNN report.

The following day Abdulrahman tried again. This time Noura reached for the knife she told her mother she would use to kill herself.

Noura’s account says that in the tussle her hand was cut and Abdulrahman bit her shoulder.

It then jumps to Noura running to her parents’ home, holding a bloody knife.

presentational grey line

Hussein and his wife were terrified when they saw their daughter standing in front of them clutching the murder weapon.

“I killed my husband after he raped me,” she told them, holding out the knife.

“I then understood the seriousness of the situation,” says Hussein. Knowing Abdulrahman’s family, he was in no doubt they would want revenge.

Noura’s whole family was now under threat, he says, so he made a decision to take them all to the police station. He did this to protect them, not, as has been reported, to turn her in and abandon her. But Noura was arrested and charged with premeditated murder.

Her family went home to appeal to the elders to make a deal with Abdulrahman’s family. They refused, instead insisting that Hussein and Zainab must no longer see Noura if they wanted to protect their other children.

When their house and business premises were set on fire and burned down, Hussein and Zainab agreed.

However, the intimidation persisted and the couple took their children and fled.

A court in Omdurman, Sudan’s second largest city, later found Noura Hussein guilty of premeditated murder, and last month – when her husband’s family refused the option of monetary compensation – it officially sentenced her to death by hanging.

Noura’s lawyers are appealing against the sentence, and seeking a pardon. The verdict is expected within days.

Hussein says he has not seen his daughter since that night, because of the threat to harm him and his other children if he does.

“I also want to see my daughter and visit her in prison and raise her spirits, but I am unable to do so,” he says.

He has talked with her on the phone, though, and says she assured him that she was in good health.

“There are hundreds and thousands of Nouras”

Zainab Ahmed says she is hopeful of a last minute miracle for her daughter. She likes to imagine that family elders will intervene and convince Abdulrahman’s family to ask the courts to repeal the death penalty.

Amnesty International thinks this is a vain hope.

“At this stage this seems highly unlikely. Had they done this during the sentencing they could have requested mitigation. At this stage a family would have no say in a judicial decision,” says Dr Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty’s director for East Africa.

However international pressure may work, she says.

“When we called for people to email Sudan’s Justice Minister demanding Noura’s pardon, he had to shut down his email address within two weeks. It had an impact. If people emailed the Sudanese embassies in their respective countries demanding her release, that would make an immense difference.”

She adds: “There are hundreds of thousands of Nouras that we haven’t heard of, in forced marriages being raped. This fight is also for them.”

Noura’s parents now live in a village far away from al-Bager.

They say that their marriage is still strong and they are supporting each other and their children through the ordeal. But Noura’s fate haunts them.

“No-one wants a miserable life for their daughter,” says Hussein.

“I did not expect things to reach this degree.

“We are hoping God will rescue her.”

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ICC renews appeal for arrest of Sudanese president

25 June 2018

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from RAJI BASHIR in Khartoum, Sudan
KHARTOUM, (CAJ News)– THE International Criminal Court (ICC) is pressing the Security Council to support the arrest and transfer of Sudan President, Omar al-Bashir, for mass atrocities in Darfur.

Some 13 years after the massacres were referred to The Hague-based tribunal, al-Bashir, accomplices Ahmad Harun and Abdel Hussein, as well as militia leader Ali Kushayb and rebel leader Abdallah Banda, have not been arrested.

ICC issued the first warrant for arrest for the suspects in 2009 and another in 2010.

“How many more years and how many more reports will be required for this Council to be galvanized into taking tangible action?” asked ICC Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.

Addressing the Security Council, she said the ICC owed the victims accountability through the court’s independent judicial process.

“The support of the Council is critical to each if we are to move the Darfur situation forward,” Bensouda said.

South Africa, hailed as the continent’s most democratic country, Chad and Uganda, have come under criticism for failure to arrest al-Bashir when he visited these countries.

Omar Mohammed. Sudan’s representative to the United Nations (UN), accused ICC of bias against Africa.

“ICC has sought to arrest an African Head of State despite the fact that similar attempts had never been witnessed in any of the world’s other regions beyond Africa,” he told the Security Council.

An estimated 300 000 people have been killed and 3 million displaced during the Darfur conflict.
– CAJ News

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“Christianity in Sudan” – CSI’s John Eibner contributes to Edinburgh Companions to Global Christianity

ZURICH, June 18, 2018

ZURICHJune 18, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Christians in Sudan are more vulnerable than ever,” according to John Eibner’s contribution to Christianity in North Africa and West Asiavolume 2 of the authoritative Edinburgh Companions to Global Christianity. This new volume is being launched today at Heythrop College, University of London.

Eibner’s contribution to the volume focuses on the Christian communities of the Republic of Sudan. Ever since Sudan attained independence in 1956, the Sudanese Christian community has confronted the ruling elite’s attempt to achieve “the restoration of Muslim and Arab supremacy after half a century of British rule.” In this environment, Eibner writes, “Christians were expected to accept politically and socially disadvantageous conditions of dhimmitude in accordance with the spirit, if not the letter, of Sharia norms.”

Islamization and Arabization failed in South Sudan, at the cost of two civil wars in which millions perished, but it intensified in North Sudan (today the Republic of Sudan) after the South’s secession in 2011.

In the religiously mixed Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile regions of the Republic of Sudan, which have long been the scene of revolt against the central government in Khartoum, Christian communities are among the targets of the Sudanese military’s counterinsurgency campaigns. In the capital Khartoum and other cities, the government periodically arrests local Christian leaders and closes church buildings. Protestant denominations and those churches whose members have roots in the Nuba Mountains and the Southern Blue Nile bear the brunt of the persecution.

In the Republic of Sudan today, Eibner concludes, “Christianity is more vulnerable than ever,” due to both increased state pressure and decreasing interest from Western partners. However, despite severe trials and tribulations, Eibner notes that few Sudanese Christians believe that Christianity is destined to disappear from the country.

Christianity in North Africa and West Asia is edited by Kenneth Ross (University of Edinburgh), Mariz Tadros (University of Sussex), and Todd Johnson (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary). It brings together contributions from thirty-eight authors to serve as a comprehensive reference guide to Christianity in every country in North Africa and West Asia.

Today’s book launch will feature a panel including contributors Eibner, Tadros, Hratch Tchilingirian, and Anthony O’Mahony, and introductory remarks by Ross. The launch takes place in the context of a conference on “Eastern Christian Tradition in the World Today,” hosted by the Centre for Eastern Christianity at Heythrop College, University of London.

Christian Solidarity International (CSI) is an international Christian human rights organization, campaigning for religious liberty and human dignity, and assisting victims of religious persecution, victimized children and victims of catastrophe.

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